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Club 3633 Profile: Fardad Niknam

When asked what he likes best about the industry, Fardad Niknam says he loves being part of people’s day-to-day life in a small way, developing tires that help keep people safe. In his 20 years working in tire industry, he continues to be driven by success – finding satisfaction when some of his wins are built upon a foundation of challenges.

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Fardad Niknam, 43 Director of Segment Development at   Yokohama Tire Corp., Santa Ana, Calif.

When asked what he likes best about the industry, Fardad Niknam says he loves being part of people’s day-to-day life in a small way, developing tires that help keep people safe. In his 20 years working in tire industry, he continues to be driven by success – finding satisfaction when some of his wins are built upon a foundation of challenges.

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“I remembered years ago when I took an idea to an innovation committee and my idea was rejected,” says Niknam. “I had worked on it for six months and being rejected in five minutes was tough. I went back to my desk visibly upset. My boss…went back to his office and brought me a piece of paper that read, ‘It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down. All that matters is that you get up one more time than you were knocked down.’ My idea was rejected three more times before it was finally accepted and incorporated into the product. And the same idea is still used in the tire today – and the concept was adopted by a lot of other tire companies.”

Being raised in a goal-oriented culture gave Niknam the fortitude and confidence to move forward, even when things didn’t go exactly as planned.

“I remember when I developed a product line and made a mistake on the size of the lettering on the sidewall in respect to the overall tire height,” he recalls. “Rather than scaling the letters according to tire section height, I kept the letter height fixed. When I saw the first tire out of the mold, I realized the mistake I made. It was a total of 52 sizes, and on eight of them the letters were too big. I thought my career was over. We decided to let the product go to market and not delay the launch. Six months after the launch, we received overwhelming positive feedback on the visibility of the name and tire size on those eight sizes. Later on, we saw our competitors increase their sidewall lettering. My mistake turned into the trend,” he laughs.

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His advice: “Yes, it’s ok to make a mistake. It’s okay to fail. But it’s more important to learn from it and implement it into your future. This always led me to move forward with confidence. Of course, you need to be a little lucky as well.”

If you could meet anyone living or dead,
who would it be and why?

“Thomas Edison. I just have couple of questions to ask him.”

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